REVIEW: Strike of the Panther (1988)

strikeofthepanther

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Jason Blade is back and ready for more non-stop martial arts action in this sequel to Day of the Panther, yet there is a bit of a flaw that makes this a bit inferior to its predecessor.

After defeating Jim Baxter, the right-hand man of crime boss Damien Zukor, martial arts expert Jason Blade has officially been hired by the local task force to serve as both a member as well as the team’s combat instructor. Engaged in a full relationship now with Gemma, the younger daughter of his mentor William Anderson, Blade is ready to tackle any assignment. His first assignment involves rescuing a missing woman who has been revealed to become part of a high-class escort ring and has been using drugs.

Despite the assignment’s success, things between Gemma and Jason are not doing too well. Jason has become dedicated to his new job and Gemma wants them to take the next level in their relationship. However, all that will have to wait as Baxter has escaped from prison and is seeking revenge against Jason. During an ambush, both Jason and William are hurt and Gemma is kidnapped. William is hurt to the point where he lands in the hospital. Baxter, knowing Jason has recovered, forces him to go to an abandoned warehouse where a bomb has been planted as well as Baxter having a special surprise for Jason in the form of a band of hockey-masked ninjas ready to take on Jason from all corners. Will Jason be able to rescue Gemma in time?

Shot back-to-back with its predecessor, it is destined that this action-packed sequel to Day of the Panther would provide quality action, but suffer slightly from a few factors. However, overall, it doesn’t take away the fact that Jason Blade is back and ready for action. Once again, Edward John Staszak returns to the role of Blade and once again, he showcases some excellent martial arts skills with his combination of western style boxing and some nice kicks that look smooth when executed.

While Staszak is an, or rather the obvious highlight of the film in terms of action, the same can only be wished for his rival in the original film. While it is great to see Jim Richards return to the role of enforcer Baxter, Peter West’s screenplay forces Baxter to only really get some licks in the final fight of the film, which sadly is one of the small flaws that plague the sequel. The major flaw, a trait never seen in the original film, is the use of psychic powers on the part of John Stanton’s William. During the fight-filled finale, which Jason gets to take on the hockey-masked ninjas, William, all of a sudden, serves as a guide to Jason. However, this trait is first seen in the pivotal scene involving Gemma’s kidnapping.

On the plus side, Rowena Wallace makes for a good addition to the cast as police sergeant Lucy, whose character may bring to mind the late Elizabeth Pena’s pivotal role of Johnson in the original Rush Hour. An expert in both negotiation and bomb-defusing, Lucy proves herself vital to the mission at hand. Zale Daniel and Mathew Quatermaine return as the police officers who in the original, provided some comic relief having their doubts about our hero, but see Jason now as a reliable ally and are willing to help him out.

Strike of the Panther may not be as good as its original due to the psychic aspect and a lackluster final fight, but overall it is still a fun action piece that makes the now retired Staszak (who has since followed his dream of being a musician) one of the underrated action heroes of the late 80’s martial arts genre.

WFG RATING: C+

The Mandemar Group presents in association with TVM Studios and Virgo Films a Danetan Pty. Ltd. Production. Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith. Producer: Damien Parer. Writer: Peter West. Cinematography: Simon Akkerman. Editing: Kerry Regan and David Jaeger.

Cast: Edward John Staszak, John Stanton, Jim Richards, Rowena Wallace, Zale Daniel, Mathew Quatermaine, Paris Jefferson.

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